Laser subtractive and laser powder bed fusion of metals: review of process and production features

Mahyar Khorasani, Ian Gibson, Amir Hossein Ghasemi*, Elahe Hadavi, Bernard Rolfe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is, to compare laser-based additive manufacturing and subtractive methods. Laser-based manufacturing is a widely used, noncontact, advanced manufacturing technique, which can be applied to a very wide range of materials, with particular emphasis on metals. In this paper, the governing principles of both laser-based subtractive of metals (LB-SM) and laser-based powder bed fusion (LB-PBF) of metallic materials are discussed and evaluated in terms of performance and capabilities. Using the principles of both laser-based methods, some new potential hybrid additive manufacturing options are discussed. Design methodology approach: Production characteristics, such as surface quality, dimensional accuracy, material range, mechanical properties and applications, are reviewed and discussed. The process parameters for both LB-PBF and LB-SM were identified, and different factors that caused defects in both processes are explored. Advantages, disadvantages and limitations are explained and analyzed to shed light on the process selection for both additive and subtractive processes. Findings: The performance of subtractive and additive processes is highly related to the material properties, such as diffusivity, reflectivity, thermal conductivity as well as laser parameters. LB-PBF has more influential factors affecting the quality of produced parts and is a more complex process. Both LB-SM and LB-PBF are flexible manufacturing methods that can be applied to a wide range of materials; however, they both suffer from low energy efficiency and production rate. These may be useful when producing highly innovative parts detailed, hollow products, such as medical implants. Originality value: This paper reviews the literature for both LB-PBF and LB-SM; nevertheless, the main contributions of this paper are twofold. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is one of the first to discuss the effect of the production process (both additive and subtractive) on the quality of the produced components. Also, some options for the hybrid capability of both LB-PBF and LB-SM are suggested to produce complex components with the desired macro- and microscale features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-958
Number of pages24
JournalRapid prototyping journal
Issue number5
Early online date2 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2023


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Laser-based machining
  • Laser-based powder bed fusion
  • Surface quality
  • NLA


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